Chouchou Namegabe Nabintu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Vital Voices Fern Holland Award
In the Congo, 31-year old Chouchou Namegabe Nabintu is known by many as a pioneering, fearless voice for justice and accountability. Born in Bukavu in South Kivu Province, Chouchou developed a strong interest in radio broadcasting and journalism as a young student. She saw radio as the means through which to reach the masses in Congo, the only medium of communication accessible to nearly everyone everywhere.
In 1997, Chouchou began as a trainee and presenter at Radio Maendeleo, a popular local community radio station, and after volunteering for several years, entered the permanent reporting staff in 2002.
In the late 1990s, as Eastern Congo was overcome by violence, Chouchou turned her microphone into a potent weapon against the rampant violations of women’s human rights she saw taking place in her community. She gained a reputation as a journalist with expertise in women, health, and human rights. She also courageously denounced the corruption of mismanagement by public authorities.
In 2003 Chouchou founded the South Kivu’s Association of Women Journalists (“Association des Femmes des Médias du Sud Kivu” or “AFEM”) and assumed leadership of the Association as its president two years later. Chouchou has sought to perfect her technical skills by attending field trainings and searching for mentorship from experienced professionals, including foreign journalists.
With AFEM and through her radio broadcasts, Chouchou continues to shine a spotlight on women’s issues, especially in rural areas. She has also brought the plight of Congolese women to an international stage, recently traveling to the Hague in December 2007 to plead the case of Kivu’s women at the International Court of Justice, where she denounced without fear the impunity in which some major rebel leaders thrive and flourish. There is no question that the world will be hearing more from Chouchou in the years to come.